African American History Essay

Many were active participants, some won their freedom and others were victims, but throughout the struggle blacks refused to be mere bystanders and gave their loyalty to the side that seemed to offer the best prospect for freedom.By 1775 more than a half-million African Americans, most of them enslaved, were living in the 13 colonies.As soon states found it increasingly difficult to fill their enlistment quotas, they began to turn to this untapped pool of manpower.

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The legislature agreed to set free slaves who volunteered for the duration of the war, and compensated their owners for their value.

This regiment performed bravely throughout the war and was present at Yorktown where an observer noted it was “the most neatly dressed, the best under arms, and the most precise in its maneuvers.” Although the Southern states were reluctant to recruit enslaved African Americans for the army, they had no objections to using free and enslaved blacks as pilots and able-bodied seaman.

By the end of the war from 5,000 to 8,000 blacks had served the American cause in some capacity, either on the battlefield, behind the lines in noncombatant roles, or on the seas.

By 1777 some states began enacting laws that encouraged white owners to give slaves for the army in return for their enlistment bounty, or allowing masters to use slaves as substitutes when they or their sons were drafted.

Whenever they could, enslaved blacks continued to join him until he was defeated and forced to leave Virginia in 1776.

Dunmore’s innovative strategy met with disfavor in England, but to many blacks the British army came to represent liberation.

In 1774 Abigail Adams wrote, “it always appeared a most iniquitious scheme to me to fight ourselves for what we are daily robbing and plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have.” Widespread talk of liberty gave thousands of slaves high expectations, and many were ready to fight for a democratic revolution that might offer them freedom.

In 1775 at least 10 to 15 black soldiers, including some slaves, fought against the British at the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill.

In Virginia alone, as many as 150 black men, many of them slaves, served in the state navy.

After the war, the legislature granted several of these men their freedom as a reward for faithful service.

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